Traveling To Meet the Sun: Off To California

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The beginning of my California adventures....

 Like I mentioned, this trip came together at the absolute last minute. You see, a few months ago, Joy the Baker and Tracy Shutterbean, two fabulous food bloggers (Joy just published a butter-and-joy-filled cookbook) who I follow, announced they were teaching a one-day Food Styling and Photography Workshop in Berkeley, California on July 21st. Instantly excited because I'd actually been thinking about going to CA anyway for my senior trip, I told my parents about it. They expressed approval, so I went back that night to check the workshop tickets, but sadly, they had sold out. :( I put my name on the waiting list, even though I knew it was a moot point.

 I sighed and resigned myself to the fact...besides, the chances of me ever meeting some of my favorite "big" bloggers were slim. Things got crazy quickly, so I also decided not to go on a senior trip because the timing just wasn't going to work out.

 But God....God is so amazing. He is such a wonderful Father who sees deep into our hearts, reads our innermost wishes, and the secret, crazy dreams and hopes we don't even whisper aloud to ourselves because we think they're too audacious to ever come to fruition.

 On the 17th, four days before the workshop, I received an email from Tiffany Moore, owner of the Teahouse where the workshop was being held. She emailed to let me know that a spot had opened up (there were only 15!) in the class - and my name was next on the list! Everything happened next very quickly. I told my sweet mom who didn't skip a beat, but said, "Yes, do it!" I decided to take full advantage of it and make it my senior trip after all, with my mudder (and best friend) along for the ride.

So off we went - carpe-ing some diem...all the way to California!

 It was utter insanity - just like the majority of the memorable, important events of my life (birthday parties, Confirmation celebration, graduation, etc.) - but the most delightful blur. My mom and I raced around packing, making lists, looking up food and sights recommendations, and averaging 3-5 hours of sleep for the rest of the week.

 Friday was especially jampacked: a morning spent on photography, last minute booking and packing, finishing paperwork, finding an outfit for a Murder Mystery Masquerade, attending said Murder Mystery party, and then rushing home early to finish packing. We finished frantically at midnight, threw everything in the car and headed off to a major airport at 2 a.m. in order to catch our 6 a.m. flight to Phoenix, Arizona!

 Dashed through the airport, scrambled through security, and made it to our flight just before they closed the door, thank the Lord! We made it safely on board and were further blessed by the sweet flight attendant who allowed me to sit up in First Class with my mom, who had a free ticket thanks to her miles points.

All the planning stress, urgent scrambling, and lack of sleep was worth it - I was so excited!

Could finally sit back, relax, and delve into His Word with some #SheReadsTruth

Love, love this verse. All the glory - and possibility - of this trip was due to Him!

Morning smackerals: 
oj for my mom, water for me, and pretzels for both of us!

Carbs + saltiness on an empty stomach = delicious.

 The face of a 19 year old running on no sleep, little food, with an aversion to bangs in her face when she's tired, and the horrifying realization at 6 a.m. that she forgot bobby pins. 

But I managed to enjoy the flight anyways. Before long, this....

...turned into this - Arizona mountains. (heya, Gina!)

We landed in Phoenix. Coffee was found. Sun was rising. 

Cool air felt. Cardigan appreciated. Iced latte sipped.

  We caught our next flight to Oakland, where I ended up seated next to a chic, artistic woman, named Elizabeth, who turned out to be in charge of an architect design firm. We proceeded to have the loveliest conversation about college, doing what you love, exploring opportunities as a young person, what education should truly be like, public school versus homeschooling, and the difference of generations. We laughed and swapped stories, and I soaked up her thoughtful advice. Couldn't have asked for a nicer seatmate! 

Finally, we arrived! 

Hello, California!

Hello From California!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hello, peoples! Things have been quiet on here because I spent the weekend packing and scurrying around get ready for California!

(In downtown Berkeley, after a long but amazing day at Joy the Baker and Tracy Shutterbean's Food Styling and Photography workshop!)

Yep, I'm in sunny CA with my mother. The trip came up at the absolute last minute (literally days ago), but is utterly amazing so far! I'm on Cloud 9 - and Pier 39 ;) - because this is my senior trip.

Much love to you all - I'll be back later with my Modest Monday outfit straight from San Francisco!

Modest Monday: KERFing It Up in the Sun

Monday, July 16, 2012

Just joining the Modest Monday party? Here's the original post. Each Monday, I post a modest, stylish outfit that I wear along with some thoughts on modesty. 

Why? Because I believe you don't have to sacrifice fashion for purity. 
 Modesty does not = frumpy. 
These are outfits I really, truly wear in my day-to-day life. I'm a girl determined to live a life of purity, modesty, and plenty of style. :)

All photography credit: Bernadette Marie Photography - check her out on FB and at her blog!

{The winner of the giveaway is Carolyn! Congratulations, girl! Email me your address and what flavor cookies you'd like (chocolate chip, white chocolate cherry, s'mores, pb & raisin, or chocolate chip hazelnut banana) at Thank you so much to everyone who entered - and for reading this little blog! I look forward to the next 150 posts. ;) }

Hey, hey! After a week of rain, the sun is finally out - and the rest of the population around here are probably rejoicing. You know I love my rainy days, but there's nothing wrong with a bit of sunshine and brightness. 

My favorite part of summer (besides ice cream + fro-yo, that is)? 

Dressing in vibrant colors!

Yes, I am a human watermelon - and I love it! Mint and coral have always, always been one of my favorite color combinations (God clearly shares my good taste, hence the watermelon shades...). They offset each other perfectly: cool and warm, soothing and pow!

It's all about balance, people. 

Shirt: Five Bamboo + KERF ala Kath and Open Sky
Skirt: thrifffffted
Shoes: vintage sparkle flats. Three guesses - yep, thrifted. You're good. 
Headband: orange scarf, previously a belt from a Wal-Mart skirt


Girls, if you don't own a swishy, flowy skirt...well, get thee to a (thrift) store and make your life complete. Then come back and thank me. (You're welcome, dearies.) 

There are few things in the world as satisfying as swirling and twirling in a swishy skirt.

Going for comfort and cuteness today...this is a much more "practical", do-things-around-the-house or run-errands outfit. It's very casual, but the headband and shoes add a dash of pizzazz. And we can all use a bit of that, can't we?

Kath, one of my favorite bloggers, is a registered dietitian who blogs about her healthy living lifestyle over at KERF: Kath Eats Real Food. Her photography is always gorgeous + vibrant and her meals are both mouthwatering and healthy (with plenty of treats thrown in :). Her blog is a celebration of real food that doesn't have chemicals or that's man-made, not manufactured. My style of eating is quite similar, so when I saw this shirt for sale on Open Sky, I couldn't resist.

 I'm frequently asked if I'm a vegetarian and used to be asked if I was on a diet when people saw me eating a salad or fruit...nope, I just try my best to eat real food!

 The shirt is by Five Bamboo and 95% made from bamboo. It's high quality, extremely soft, but thick and durable. I love that the company has a passion for making clothes from the earth's natural resources, not something synthetic. The clothing version of eating real food. :)

Proud to sport the "KERF" logo! ;)

 This is another thrifting treasure find that my mother scored. It's one of my favorite skirts to wear because of the color and also because it's so soft. Extremely lightweight and breathable, it's absolutely perfect for hot days, to twirl in, or just to sit and look pretty in.

 I love these shoes. They make my heart happy. And flip-flop. And skip a beat.

 I was innocently meandering down the isle of a thrift store that had a $1 shoe special that day when I found them. I'm positive I squealed. I mean, look at them...they're sparkly. Glittery. Sequinned. Vintage. And all the colors of the rainbow. If we had fairies in our world, these are the kind of shoes they would wear. I love these so much I wore them on my birthday.

Get some sparkle in your life asap, girls. It's good for the soul. Promise! 

Your turn! Show me your Modest Monday or Tuesday/Wednesday. Link up your outfit (it can be as casual or gussied up as you want).

Don't have a blog?
 Email (
 Instagram (raewyn83) 
or Tweet (@GracefulEats) 
me a pic of your outfit with hashtag #modestmoday if you'd like to see it featured on the blog!

{Catching up on Modest Monday? Here's Week 1, 234 5, and 6}

Pick Yourself Up, Put On Some Lipstick, and Kick Yourself in the Head

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Feelin' stressed?

A little ho-hum?

Busy with chores and "To-Do"s?


I know how that feels; really, I do. And sometimes - like today - I get that "I've-been-cooped-up-in-the-house-and-need-to-get-out" feeling...

Cuz' sometimes, you just need a kick in the head.

So I ran home in the rain.

(after a youth group thing, with my younger-but-taller brother who comes right after me in the kid line up)

Put on some pretty boots and threw on a cute + comfy outfit,

Headed to the bookstore and sipped on a late-lunch iced latte

And did some writing for my book.

And it felt wonderful...just to glory in some of my favorite things. Could I have spent that time working out or hanging up my clean clothes? Or that $3.65 on something else? Oh yes. But it was worth it. Some days are for doing things that just make you happy. For seeking out the little moments of joy.

For living joyfully. :)

Of Tempests, Tea and Typing

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

'And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down...'

As my favorite silly old bear says, "Is it raining out there? It's raining in (over) here too." It's pouring, actually - dripping, gushing, rushing, pattering, and drenching. In the most delightful manner.
I've written before about my love for rainy days, but it really is true. There's just something about rain that makes me wonderfully happy. It's such a cozy feeling to be curled up, safe and warm in the house.

It's fearfully early right now - all's hushed in the house, everyone else is sleeping. I'm typing away in yoga pants with a scarf 'round my neck and a hot cup of English Breakfast tea in my lap. And in the mood to write. My writer-creative-muse side is feeling quite alert and awake. (As it always does when it rains...I have a feeling my productivity would be staggering if I lived somewhere like Seattle.) 

This bit of rainy spell is somewhat out of sorts with our usual Louisiana weather, but I'm tickled every shade of rosy pink at the wet weather this week. (How's that for alliteration? ;) I think I shall use it to my advantage though and tackle the last chapter holes of zee rough draft of my book. 

Oh, yes. I'm writing a book. I've mentioned it once or twice on here, but not recently, I think. Anyhoo, it's the first book in a young adult fantasy series I've been working on for years. It came to fruition when I was a wee girl of 13 and has been slowly brewing into something more mature and readable over the past few years. This year, I'm determined to finish it. 2012 is the year - the year that I will push myself; write, write, write; edit out of the wazoo, and then send out query letters. 

What it's about? A very ordinary, small girl named Emma Nels who one days stumbles quite literally into another world called Renia. She discovers she has something known in that other world as a "Stone of Destiny." There are seven Stones that each represent an element of the land. Each Stone has a Guardian who carries the Stone...she is one of the Guardians and her Stone is the Stone of Water. As Emma discovers, the new world is very extra-ordinary. Along the way she encounters Elves, a King, several adventurous near-death experiences, a fast-talking British teenager, a disgruntled general, and a Spy. 

So there's a little bit about it. The title is The Stones of Destiny: Quest for Renia. I plan on sharing more about it in the future... introduce you to some of the characters and perhaps even post some excerpts. 

 I'm off to do some writing. All those storms raging on outside...bah, do what you may. I've got tea and my laptop. Ella and Louis are crooning in the background. I'm wearing mismatched neon leopard print socks. 

I win. :)

Modest Monday: More Than Just an Outfit

Monday, July 9, 2012

Happy start of the week to you...hello, July! It's hard to believe the first full week's already over. Summer is speeding along... 

Just joining the Modest Monday party? Here's the original post. Each Monday, I post a modest, stylish outfit that I wear along with some thoughts on modesty. 

Why? Because I believe you don't have to sacrifice fashion for purity. 
 Modesty does not = frumpy. 
These are outfits I really, truly wear in my day-to-day life. I'm a girl determined to live a life of purity, modesty, and plenty of style. :)

All photography credit: Bernadette Marie Photography - check her out on FB and at her blog!

{The winner of the giveaway is Carolyn! Congratulations, girl! Email me your address and what flavor cookies you'd like (chocolate chip, white chocolate cherry, s'mores, pb & raisin, or chocolate chip hazelnut banana) at Thank you so much to everyone who entered - and for reading this little blog! I look forward to the next 150 posts. ;) }

It's raining again favorite kind of weather. I love, love, LOVE rain. It makes the day feel so cozy and special and brings out my quirky side. Fact: I'm always more productive and creative on rainy days. My affection for raindrops and grey skies is probably why I love England so much.

Rainy days always involve two of my favorite things:

Books + coffee = happiness. 

  Most people seem to feel the same way because bookstores and coffeeshops are always buzzing with activity, the bubble of numerous brews, and sighs of contentment. Regardless, I can usually be found in a bookstore on a rainy day. 

Today's outfit was delightfully casual and quirky. And every bit as comfortable and feminine as I could wish!

Shirt: Xhilaration (Target)
Blue jean skirt: thrift store
Leggings: thrift store
Boots: gift from my aunt
Camisole: Gap
Bag: Aeropostale
Ring: Pacific Sun
Much-needed mocha frappe: Joe Muggs

This is quite possibly my favorite skirt. I wear it at least 5 times a week. Yes, I'm stuck in a rut and proud of it. It's my version of blue jean pants! 

This skirt's so versatile, lightweight, and most importantly comfortable. I can flop around in it, twirl in it, or sit Indian-style without the inhibition of a more narrow, constricting blue jean skirt. But the tiered, ruffle-like structure adds a bit of girlie swing to it that a straight skirt might not have. 

 And the ring! I love the curve of it; it's a fern leaf, but it also looks like a feather. It has a very Greecian feel to it. It reminds me of the Hunger Games whenever I glance down at it. Or of Hermes, the Greek messenger god, with his winged sandals.

Coffeeeeeee. It makes my heart pitter patter. (Not just, you know, from the caffeine.)

(Huh? What is this "buzz" you speak of??? I'm not hyper at all. Nope. Definitely not.

As in, absolutelysupercalifragilisticexpialidociously -


Moving on!)

This shirt was very thin and airy with lace thread sleeves, so I layered it on top of a camisole for coverage and warmth. (And if you look closely, you'll notice the pattern resembles the fern ring! Ha! *cough* Not...that I just noticed that myself while putting together the post...Of course not.)

I love the delicate look of the sleeves - also very Greecian with the fabric joined at the shoulder, tunic-style.

 I frequently "borrow" this Aeropostale bag from my little sister for books and such; it switches between her and I every few days.

 She uses it to house art supplies, doodling notebooks, and her stuff, while I usually throw my writing notebooks, wallet, phone, and ink pens in it when I want to go write somewhere. It's nice and roomy, but not too heavy.

Hello again, beautiful boots. I like you very much. So much in fact, I've featured you in MM for the second time. You're shiny and crinkly, and perfect for rainy days. And you're authentically Texan. <3 And free! Three cheers for kindhearted aunts who pass on their boots after outgrowing them. 
So next time it's raining, head to a bookstore. You know you want to! It's the perfect place to pass the rainy hours and show off whatever cute outfit you're wearing as you putter around. 

Oh, and don't forget some coffee. 


Although my outfit above isn't immodest, modesty is so much more than wearing clothes that aren't revealing. Modesty begins with the types of clothes you wear, but it goes so much further!

We're all human...we learn, we judge, we instantly form an opinion based on a visual example. 
Am I going to be deeply moved by a desciption or verbal instruction, say, that encourages me to pray on my knees? Not necessarily. My inner free will and human nature bucks: "What? Why do I have to do that? It's uncomfortable - I'd rather do something else...what will people think of me??"

 But if, for instance, I saw a young man, kneeling, embracing the humility of such an act...offering that action in love...if I saw him bending his head in earnest devotion as he pours out his soul to God, telling him everything - his hopes, his frustrations, his plans-  it would make me stop and  think. 

 "Here's someone who's doing this...and he looks like he wants to be praying on his knees. He doesn't look unhappy, like he's doing it out of duty. Maybe...maybe, if he can do can I."

For me, being modest also means being aware of my actions . It encompasses everything about my external appearance, including how I move, how I sit, how I bend over, etc. 

I know it can be hard sometimes to remember to be modest in all situations, especially in ordinary, daily circumstances. Often, we can accidentally be immodest without meaning to! But modesty is not simply how you dress. It's a state of mind. It's caring and respecting your body in a way that you dress and act with dignity. 

And in today's culture of Jersey Shore, Lady Gaga, and 50 Shades of Grey, isn't that what we need to do as Christians? As human beings who were created in the image and likeness of God?  We need to be living examples of modesty, of purity, of Christ. And it can be as simple as how we physically move around and interact with others.

 Do you dress modestly? That's wonderful! your daily actions completely correlate with how you dress?  

Take for example, bending over to pick something up. It's utterly natural to stoop without bending my knees and scoop something off of the floor or grab a book that's fallen. It takes three seconds and probably happens 6-7 times a day. There's just always some reason to bend over. 

 But girls, let's be honest - when we do that, depending on the shirt you're wearing, whoever's standing in front of you gets a full view of your chest. Even if you're wearing a camisole or something that doesn't have a plunging neckline. Not to mention, if your head is down, your derriere is...up. In a very "bulls-eye target" way. 

 And just like a target, if there are people around, it grabs the eye's attention. It doesn't matter if the person near you is a guy or girl, married or single, young or old. They will naturally look, because it' their face, to put it bluntly. 

And no girl wants that! We should try our best to make sure all of our movements are modest and dignified in a feminine way. And honestly, is bending over like that feminine at all? Not really. I didn't think anything of it when I was younger until I read about it in a book on modesty. The author explained that when she began to dress more modestly, she realized her movements began to change also. Instead of bending over in a skirt or dress, she crouched or simply knelt down to retrieve whatever was on the floor. It only took a second or two longer - and it was much more appropriate. I discovered she was right: when I crouch or lower down to the ground, I feel much more modest. I don't worry about any of my guy friends having to avert their eyes for a moment or look the other way. It feels natural. And it's modest.

That's one of the reasons why I love wearing leggings with shorter skirts: if you're like me and enjoy sitting on the floor, crossing your legs or sitting Indian-style/lotus position, leggings allow that freedom when you're wearing a skirt that may not otherwise allow you to do that. 

Boys often get a harsh rep for objectifying girls and paying more attention to a girl's appearance than her as a person. But why are we making it so hard for them to not do that? 

 I've seen so many girls - who are good, sweet girls that may also be modest dressers - bend over or lean forward or jump up and down or cross their legs while wearing shorts/an above-knee length dress or the presence of guys! It's happened many times when I'm with my younger brothers, which always makes me feel uncomfortable because I don't want them subjected to that kind of temptation. But it's also happened when I'm in a mixed group of girls and guys. 

 It's even harder when those guys are ones who make an effort to be pure and gentlemen. As girls, we shouldn't make their struggle more difficult, even if we don't realize that's what we're doing!

"But I'm just bending over! How's that immodest? That's their problem if they look at me like that."

 One way to look at it is to think, "Would I be comfortable if a girl bent over or leaned forward like that in front of my brother/dad/boyfriend/fiance/husband?" Suddenly, it's not just 'bending over.'

Modesty starts with the little things. 

With wearing clothes that highlight your personality, not specific parts of your body. 

With taking a moment to think, "Okay, I know my guy friend is standing next to me. My outfit is modest, but will I remain modest if I bend over? Since I'm wearing shorts/a dress/skirt, will I still be modest if I sit down with my bare legs stretched out in front of me - and him?"

With choosing to move intentionally, not carelessly, in a way that exemplifies our natural dignity and femininity as women.

Because modesty is more than just an outfit. It's a conscious choice that should apply to every area of your life. 

Your turn! Show me your Modest Monday (or Tuesday/Wednesday). Leave the blog post link of your outfit (it can be as casual or dressed up as you want) in the comments, if you'd like.

Head over to check out these lovely girls and their Modest Monday outfits:

Don't have a blog?
 Email (
 Instagram (raewyn83) 
or Tweet (@GracefulEats) 
me a pic of your outfit if you'd like to see it featured on the blog!

{Catching up on Modest Monday? Here's Week 1, 234 and 5}

Because {A Giveaway}

Friday, July 6, 2012

EDIT: Hey y'all! This weekend is crazy, so what I'm going to do is extend the giveaway through midnight on Sunday. Then I'll post the winner in this week's Modest Monday post. You know you want that chocolate! ;)

Because it's raining (and I love rainy weather),

because I'm listening to Ella,

because it's the beginning of the month, so that's cause for a celebration,

because we're smack dab in the middle of LIFE and it's wonderful,

because I reached 150 posts (didn't realize I'd made 100!) on this little blog,

and because you guys make me smile,

I'm having a little giveaway! It's nothing too, too grand, because I don't have spare Kitchen Aid mixers or $50 Amazon gift cards, but it's pretty sweet all the same. ;)

 I'm putting together a little goodie basket with some of the things I love. The winner will receive:

Some of my favorite chocolate

(Look, Ma, I match - green & green!)

Coffeeeeeeee (I'm loving using these for iced coffee; I stretch out one little pack to last 3-4 cups)

This bright, cheery, perfect-for-summer-and-Modest-Monday skirt (size S)
(I went through my closet recently and there are a few pieces that are very cute, but I simply don't wear, so I thought I'd pass them on to another girl!)

A lovely purple and white dress: wear it to church, a wedding, or just to twirl in (size S)

and some homemade cookies. Your pick for flavor: chocolate chip, white chocolate cherry, s'mores, pb and raisin, or chocolate chip hazelnut banana. (Mmmm, I may make all five for myself! ;)

 How to enter:
 Share the link to My Spare Oom on Facebook or Twitter, and then leave a comment to let me know you did so. 

Don't have either? Just leave a comment and let me know what you enjoy most about My Spare Oom. :) Deadline is midnight on Sunday I'll  announce the winner on Monday.

(U.S. residents only please)